Unlike Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Daniel was not a preaching prophet; his ministry was prophetic interpretation and writing. Daniel provided Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar with interpretations of their dreams (chs. 2 and 5), then recorded his own visions and their interpretation for the generations to come (chs. 7-12). These final visions clarified for the exiles the degree of God’s sovereignty over their situation and assured them that divine justice would prevail—not only in their case but over all of history.
Daniel’s visions described the coming great empires of the world: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman. Within these, great leaders would arise. Alexander the Great spread Greek influence throughout the world of his day, and Antiochus IV Ephiphanes ruled in Syria during the latter portion of the Greek period, pointedly opposing the Jews. The overlap of themes and imagery found in Daniel 7-12 and the New Testament underscores Daniel’s influence in the storyline of Scripture. The visions John received in Revelation re-presented figures and phrases from Daniel in light of Christ. Taken together, Daniel and John depict:
(1) The final world empire. In Daniel 7, the prophet recorded his vision of the Four Beasts, each a metaphor for a coming successive world empire. The final beast, frightening, dreadful, and incredibly strong, had 10 horns (Dan 7:7). From this beast, Daniel saw another horn arise, and it became the focus of his attention. Revelation notes that John witnessed a beast coming out of the sea with 10 horns, representing 10 kings (Rev 17:12), likewise full of might and strength even to the degree that some said, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against him?” (Rev 13:4). John wrote that these 10 kings give their authority to the beast (Rev 17:13), a representation of Satan, the dragon (Rev 12:3; 13:4, 11). In Dan 7:20-27 and 11:29-39, the character of the antagonist king(s) who opposed God’s people was marked by blasphemous speech, exalting himself above God (Dan 11:36b). Their haughty words anticipate the antichrist’s boasting in Revelation. John wrote, “A mouth was given to him to speak boasts and blasphemies…He began to speak blasphemies against God: to blaspheme His name and His dwelling—those who dwell in heaven” (Rev 13:5-6; compare 2 Thess 2:9-10).
(2) Spiritual warfare in heaven. At the conclusion of Daniel’s prayer during the third year of King Cyrus, an angelic figure appeared to the prophet telling him that he had been delayed in answering the prayer because of spiritual warfare against the representative of the kingdom of Persia. “Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia,” the angel told Daniel (Dan 10:12b-13). In Dan 12:1, the prophet recorded, “At that time Michael the great prince who stands watch over your people will rise up. There will be a time of distress such as never has occurred since nations came into being until that time.” John saw a vision of war in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against Satan and throwing him from God’s presence to the earth (Rev 12:7-9a). “Woe to the earth and the sea,” John heard a heavenly voice exclaim, “for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time” (Rev 12:12).
(3) A period of tribulation for the faithful. In Dan 7:21-22, Daniel wrote, “As I was watching, this horn made war with the holy ones and was prevailing over them until the Ancient of Days arrived and a judgment was given in favor of the holy ones of the Most High, for the time had come, and the holy ones took possession of the kingdom.” Daniel understood that while the four beasts had authority, the ultimate power was the Ancient of Days, God Almighty. He gave the one like a son of man the authority to rule and have dominion over an everlasting kingdom (Dan 7:13-14). These prophetic themes surface throughout Revelation. John saw that the beast would make war with the witnesses of the church (Rev 11:7) and the people of God (Rev 12:13). The beast was given authority over all peoples. “All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered” (Rev 13:7-8), John wrote. The beast and his 10 kings would “wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords, and King of kings. Those with him are called and elect and faithful” (Rev 17:14). John saw that when all nations gathered together to fight God’s people and the Lord Jesus Christ, the beast and the false prophet were taken captive and thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 19:19-20).
(4) The spiritual preservation of the elect. Near the conclusion of Daniels’s visions, an angelic figure said to the prophet, “Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly, none of the wicked will understand, but the wise will understand” (Dan 12:10). In John’s vision of the beast rising out of the sea, he heard that all would worship the beast save those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8). John then commented, “If anyone has an ear, he should listen: If anyone is destined for captivity, into captivity he goes. If anyone is to be killed with a sword, with a sword he will be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints” (Rev 13:9-10). Near the end of Revelation, an angel said to him, “Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; and let the holy go on being made holy” (Rev 22:11).
(5) The victory of God and His faithful ones at the final judgement. Immediately following the vision of the Four Beasts, Daniel wrote, “As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat…His throne was flaming fire; its wheels were blazing fire…The court was convened, and the books were opened” (Dan 7:9a, c; 10b). While the little horn would be permitted to blaspheme and deceive for a time, Daniel prophesied that eventually he would be deposed and his kingdom overthrown. “The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High,” Daniel wrote. And he added, “His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey Him” (Dan 7:26-27). Daniel noted, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to shame and eternal contempt” (Dan 12:2). This judicial framework dominates Revelation, where John described the risen Lord as One resembling Daniel’s Ancient of Days (Rev 1:14), a heavenly judgment throne surrounded by thousands of angels (Rev 4:2; 5:11; 11:18), books opened to dispense the eternal verdict for the living and the dead (Rev 20:11-15), and the dominion of the Lord and His saints. In Rev 11:18, the 24 elders proclaimed, “The nations were angry, but Your wrath has come. The time has come for the dead to be judged, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, to the saints, and to those who fear Your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.”